Along the roadside in the High and Anti Atlas and down to the south east of Morocco boys bound into the paths of on coming cars to offer crystalline mementos of Morocco and rocks, fossils and minerals are staples of most tourist shops in the south. Before purchasing you might want to read these notes:
Geode – Tennis ball size specimens of crystals in a hollow geode costs around ₤12/24$ in theUKor theUS, on the Moroccan hard shoulder they may cost you more. Brilliant orange and red geodes and slices of rock crystal (quartz) look attractive but are unknown to natural science as are the quartz geodes given an iridescent metal coating by vendors.
Ammonites – Attractive spirals of ammonites (from Carboniferous to Jurassic) in Morocco they can be bought sliced and polished as well as raw. Check the center of the spiral of the ammonites and at the ridge around its shell to check how far natural features have been ‘enhanced’ by a chisel.
Trilobites – Slightly older ammonites, trilobites often appear in shops as identical beige-colored fossils on grey slate. In nature they are rarely so perfect – beware plaster casts. The early trilobite paradoxis is about the size of a hand, with long whisker like spines. A deep-sea inhabitant, it is often found looking rather squashed sideways, where the silts on which it lived have been sheared by pressure. The Calymene and Phacops types of trilobites are about 200 million years younger Paradoxides . They measure about 2 inches long, with crab like outer skeleton. The half rounded shield-like skull, often found separated from the exo-skeleton, can appear in a shop with the rest of the skeleton carved around it as a tribute to the Moroccan craftsmanship.
In the back limestone regions near Erfoud, the white crystalline shapes of belemnites, ammonites and nautilus are cross sectioned and polished to emphasize the internal structure.
Information from Lonely Planet. www.lonelyplanet.com
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